The Rivers State Government and the management of Ethiopian Airlines have reached an agreement, in principle, for the operation of permanent international flights from the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, subject to the approval of the relevant federal authorities.
The two parties reached the agreement at the Headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines after a high-powered meeting between officials of the state government led by Governor Nyesom Wike; and the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Dr Tewolde Gebremariam, the Chief Commercial Officer, Esayas Wolde Mariam, Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel, Managing Director, Sales International, Lemma Yadecha, Regional Director, Sales and Services, Western Africa, Mitiku Asrat and Manager, Group Alliance and Commercial Cooperation, Hewoel Lemma.
In an address, Chief Commercial Officer, Esayas Wolde Mariam, explained that Ethiopian Airlines has agreed to fly permanently from Port Harcourt International Airport, subject to the approval of the Federal Government.
Mariam said: “We are willing and capable to fly into Port Harcourt on a regular basis. For now, we have exhausted our Bilateral Air Agreement Approval, and we need another approval to operate the Port Harcourt route.
“We need your help to ensure that approval comes from the federal authorities. At first, there should be a temporary operating permit, pending the final approval”, he said.
The chief commercial officer added that Ethiopian Airlines needs the initial support of the Rivers State Government for handling and aviation infrastructure in Port Harcourt to develop the new market.
He noted that Ethiopian Airlines would also embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourist and investment destination.
Also speaking, the Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel made a presentation on the capacity and vision of the airline for the continent.
In his response, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike emphasised that the state government was willing to provide an enabling environment for Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state, and assured that he would meet with the Minister of Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, to ensure that Port Harcourt International Airport was approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.
Wike further said that his administration was working on making Port Harcourt a regional air transport hub for greater economic development of the state.
He said: “As we, therefore, consolidate on our achievements, we want to also focus on making Port Harcourt City a regional air transport hub through the private public partnership (PPP) approach while leveraging on the existing aviation infrastructure and related market and other advantages of the state.
“I wish to assure you that we are ready to do everything within our powers and spheres of authority and influence to facilitate the realization of your interest and desire to directly and sustainably fly from Port Harcourt to Addis Ababa and other parts of the world”, the governor stated.
Wike thanked officials of Ethiopian Airlines for their interest in expanding and retaining their services in Port Harcourt City, adding that the Rivers State Government would offer its social partnership, goodwill and support.
The governor noted that Port Harcourt was strategically located to serve as a transit point for the entire South-South and parts of the South-East, pointing out that, “We have agreed in principle that there is need for Ethiopian Airlines to fly from Port Harcourt to other destinations. Port Harcourt is a destination of choice, as it is easily accessible for the entire South-South and other states in the South-East”.
Wike was accompanied by former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Austin Opara, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, Director General of Rivers State Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr Thompson Emmanuel, former House of Assembly member, Hon Felix Nwaeke, former Eleme Local Government Area Chairman, Chief Ejor N. Ejor, and President of Port Harcourt Investors and Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Ibifiri Bob-Manuel.
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Calls To Head COVID-19 Team Handiwork Of Mischief Makers Says Rivers State Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Banigo
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has dissociated herself from calls by mischief makers urging the Governor to let her head the COVID 19 Team in the State.
In a statement from the Government House in Port Harcourt on Friday, the Deputy Governor expressed regret that despite the concerted efforts by Governor Wike to protect the Rivers People and stem the spread of Covid 19, some faceless enemies of the State sponsor e-rats to publish junk in the social media, what an absurd way to play politics.
The Deputy Governor of Rivers State is a part and parcel of the Governors team in this fight against the Killer Virus and she is contributing her quota, she must not head the team. There is no law that says she should head the team so why the fuss.
Governor Wike is the leader and he has demonstrated great capacity and leadership in the Country not only in the quest to defeat Covid 19 but in providing democratic dividends to the Rivers People and beyond.
Governor Wike was the first to close his boarders even before the Federal Government thought of it, decontamination of public places is on-going, he has put strict restriction on social gathering, imposed lockdown, curfews, provided all the necessary logistics for health professionals to do their jobs efficiently, intensified public enlightenment campaigns, etc.
What these mischief makers and their political sponsors do not realize is the fact that Covid 19 is not just a Medical or Public Health issue. It goes far beyond health, it is also a security as well as a Socio -economic and political issue, so flaunting the resume’ of Dr. Banigo as a Public Health Physician
and urging Governor Wike to make her head the team is an exercise in futility.
We are facing a novel corona virus; Covid 19 pandemic which no one knows enough about. It is a war and we must all be on board to fight it. This is not the time for distractions.
Please obey all the protocols as elucidated by NCDC and the Rivers State Government which includes the correct wearing of face masks, regular washing of hands with soap and running water as well as the use of alcohol based hand sanitizers, improve personal hygiene, avoiding crowded environment and stop stigmatization of people with the virus. Together we will win the war against Covid 19.
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